THIS summer marks the centenary of the greatest catastrophe in British military history.

On July 1, 1916, a massed attack was launched in northern France against German positions on the Somme sector of the Western Front. At the end of the day, nearly 20,000 British soldiers lay dead.

The events of that dreadful day have come to symbolise the waste and tragedy of human conflict, leaving an indelible scar on Britain’s national consciousness.

Battlefield Memorial Tours is a Midlands-based organisation that takes relatives to the graves of loved ones killed in the two world wars. It carries on the work of the late Alex Bulloch, a former Birmingham policeman and renowned tour guide, who was awarded the MBE for his services to charity and historical research.

This year, the group will be running several trips, including a journey of a lifetime to the Somme to coincide with the anniversary of the battle. Other visits planned throughout 2016 will be to Ypres, Normandy, Colditz Castle, Nordhausen and the Ruhr dams in Germany, targeted by Barnes Wallis’ legendary bouncing bombs in 1943.

In November, there will be a trip to the annual Armistice service at the Menin Gate, Ypres, taking in the 1815 battlefield of Waterloo.

There will also be one-day itineraries to view the famed Churchill war rooms and the Imperial War Museum. Expert guides will provide running commentaries on all the trips.

For more information, contact organiser Brian Long, Tor House, Main Street, Winster, Derbys DE4 2DH. Tel: 01629 650780 or visit battlefieldmemorialtours.

John Phillpott (press and publicity, Battlefield Memorial Tours)